Letter from Joseph Tkach — May 2013

Posted by colin on May 3, 2013 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article




May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace Communion International congregations, along with most Christian churches, will celebrate the day of Pentecost on May 19. “Pentecost” was a harvest festival in ancient Israel that became one of the great festivals of the Christian calendar after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

We know about the great commission given by Jesus to his disciples, in which he directs them with taking the gospel to the world. He explained that they were to be his witnesses, working alongside him in his ongoing ministry “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But before ascending to heaven, he told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4). But why should they wait there? Why not get on with spreading Jesus’ message?

Those first apostles had to understand something important about their commission. It is a lesson that we need to remember too. This is not our ministry. The work of taking the good news of salvation to the world was, is and always will be the ministry of Jesus. He invites us to join him. If we are to do that effectively, God knew we would need help. So Jesus told his first witnesses to do nothing towards fulfilling his commission until they had received “the gift my Father promised.”

Obediently, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, and waited. Then, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4).

The day of Pentecost commemorates the dramatic birth of the New Testament church. It is also a reminder that when Jesus returned to heaven, he did not leave us alone to spread his gospel message to the world. God knew that even with the best communication skills and enthusiasm, we could not do that alone. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would be actively involved in the disciples’ work and in ours.

God showed them, in a very dramatic way, that the preaching of the gospel message would not be constrained or limited by the disciples’ ability and resources. “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’” (Acts 2:5-8).

The events of that day remind us that the Holy Spirit is not given so we may exalt ourselves, but that we might be responsible witnesses of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that the church is more than a place to be taught principles of sound and virtuous living – it exists to proclaim the praises of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that although we all want to become more like Jesus, this is not the only goal we have. Christians have a mission – a mission empowered by the Holy Spirit, who inspires us to declare the Lord Jesus Christ – to bring the message of reconciliation through faith in his name to the whole world.

So Pentecost is still a harvest festival. Jesus asks his bride – the church – to co-minister with him and be involved in a spiritual harvest. “Open your eyes and look at the fields!” Jesus told his disciples while they were in Samaria. “They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Jesus was talking about a spiritual harvest, in which people are given eternal life: “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together” (John 4:36).

“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (John 4:34). That was his life, his nourishment, his energy. He, in turn, is the source of our life. He is our bread – the bread of eternal life. We are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, in his way of life, allowing him to live in us. We should allow him to transform our goals in life. We should live for him, his purposes and his glory.

As we remember Pentecost, the disciples and the birth of the New Testament church, we should not forget that we, too, are that same church. The Holy Spirit is still with us, still empowering us to do the work Christ commissioned us to do. Your generous and consistent donations make it possible for our fellowship to do more each year to share this faith, hope and love with others.

Your fellow laborer in Christ,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

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